A Reuters Poll conducted from April 6-8, 2015 and released on Thursday, finds that a solid majority of Americans oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians, even if it is based on religious beliefs. By nearly a 2 to 1 margin, Americans do not think religious conviction should be a justification for discrimination.
The Reuters poll found that by a 55-27 percent margin, Americans do not believe businesses should have the right to refuse to hire certain groups of people based on their religious beliefs. By a very similar 54-28 margin, Americans do not support the right of businesses to refuse services to certain categories of people based on religious objections. In plain English, Americans do not approve of discrimination even if it is disguised by the euphemism “religious freedom”.
Furthermore, the Reuters poll found that Americans now strongly approve of allowing same-sex couples to marry, with 52 percent in favor to just 32 percent against. 37 states currently permit same-sex marriages, but that number is likely to continue to increase as the tide continues to roll over the reactionary forces of bigotry, one state at a time. 55 percent of the respondents to the Reuters poll believe states that do not recognize same-sex marriages still should be required to honor legal marriages performed in other states.
Defenders of so-called religious freedom laws often try to portray supporters of LGBT equality as radical activists persecuting Christians. In Republican circles, equality advocates are derided as being out of touch with American values. However, the cultural reactionaries who support discrimination against gays and lesbians are actually the ones who are out of touch with contemporary American values.
The Republican Party can continue to defend the indefensible, but anti-gay bigotry is no longer a winning issue for them in the United States. Perhaps ambitious Republican politicians are slow to recognize the shifting political landscape under their feet. They are still stuck in the politics of a decade ago, when Karl Rove and other Republican strategists used anti-gay ballot measures as a way to get throngs of Republican voters to the polls. The strategy worked pretty well in 2004, when most Americans were opposed to gay marriage (62-30 percent against, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll in 2004), but it no longer pays dividends for the GOP.
Republicans can continue to pretend that they speak for most Americans when they defend “Bible-based” bigotry. However, the reality is that on LGBT rights, Republicans don’t speak for most Americans. The Republican Party’s views are antiquated. Americans believe in non-discrimination, not the right to discriminate based on religious beliefs.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.